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AUTOGRAPH BAN A SIGN OF THE TIMES

31-08-2009

West Bromwich Albion have banned players signing autographs at their training ground, ostensibly in a bid to stop supporters cashing in on memorabilia via Ebay. Baggies supporter Terry Wills is outraged – and recalls how he once persuaded even the once great Mohammed Ali to put pen to paper.

Now I KNOW the game has reached an all time low concerning any sort of genuine relationship between the players and fans.

What on earth is this to do with anyone other than the players?

It's their 'spare time' and surely THEY should be making the decision as to whether to sign or not?

Ebay!!! A weak excuse as I can't see many making a 'fortune ' out of the likes of some of our finest, can anyone?

I've been collecting autographs and photographs of celebrities for more years than I care to remember and had VERY few refusals.

Most appreciate the attention knowing damn well that in years to come, when they're no longer the centre of attention, they can think back of the time they WERE considered worthy of those who appreciated their talents.

On that score how many have been reading of the probable last visit to the UK of Muhammad Ali?

Fellow boxers, i.e. Rickie Hatton and others, plus admirers are in genuine awe of the guy and are happy to pay £1,200 to have a souvenir photograph taken with him as a personal memory of a truly outstanding personality who has gone on to become a TRUE legend.

Ali visited Birmingham in 1984. He was swamped with admirers wherever he went and it was extremely difficult to get anywhere near him.

Discovering the name of his hotel, I wrote to him asking if he would agree to meet me so he could sign my copy of his newly published book 'The Greatest (My own Story)’.

Amazingly he replied yes. So now for an everlasting memory I not only have the book signed, but found he was only to happy to pose for a photograph to add to my collection.

That wasn't the end of it as he also signed a A4 card with the following unique message..."To Terry from Muhammad Ali".

"Service to others is the rent we pay for our room in heaven"

Now of course should i approach any Albion player with a similar request I know what their answer will be, and how sad is that?

Why the club have made this decision which surely infringes the infamous Human Rights Act (?) is beyond my comprehension.

All it has done is to increase the seemingly ever widening gap between themselves and those who pay out money to buy season tickets, club merchandise, etc.

Truly a decision they could well live to regret.

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